The oak chair that had been sitting so long in our vault had been used in the House Chamber of the second Nebraska State Capitol. The first State Capitol was built in Lincoln between 1867 and 1868. Due to poor construction and inferior materials, the building began to crumble. By 1881 the first wing of a second State Capitol was completed and the entire building finished in 1888.
In terms of preservation, the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of the state’s best-kept secrets—and we’re trying to change that! We are the only regional conservation lab between Minneapolis and Denver, and we want more Nebraskans (and Iowans and Missourians and Kansans and South Dakotans!) to know what we have to offer.
What is the Ford Conservation Center?
Puppets generally fall along a scale from Muppets (adorable and cuddly) to Ventriloquist Dummy (unsettling and creepy). Thankfully, the twenty-eight puppets donated to the Nebraska History Museum in 2013 by George Churley of Lincoln, fall toward the Muppet end of the spectrum. Churley, a puppeteer and founder of the George Churley Puppet Company (in business from 1973 to 1980), donated the puppets along with photographs and audiovisual materials.
Imagine being responsible for a museum collection and coming across an artifact that appears to be melting before your eyes! That is exactly what happened at the Ford Conservation Center recently. Last year, we had received a group of objects from the Harry S. Truman Library. The library staff wanted us to write proposals for treatment ahead of an exhibit on President Truman’s experience during World War I. One of the objects was a seemingly ordinary celluloid protractor. When it came to us, it was clear and intact.